GNESEN, Township — Josh Rowe started racing three years ago, and the Hornet driver has started to pick up his game.
Rowe was 17 when he first set foot in a car, and now three years later, he’s running up front with the best drivers in his class.
He has a lot of people to thank for his racing career, including fellow Hornet driver AJ House, but it was his father, Mike, who actually got the ball rolling in the racing direction.
“My buddy (AJ), he started racing a couple of years before I did, but I was helping him out with his car,” Rowe said. “I came across a car for free from my dad, and he decided I could take it and turn it into a race car.
“I built the roll cage over the winter. I knew it was going to be a fun past time because I like fixing cars, but a lot of it is hanging out with my friends and the camaraderie with the other drives.”
Like all drivers, that first year on the track was a learning experience for Rowe.
“It went OK,” he said. “I wasn’t a good driver, but I was learning how to drive, and how to handle the car on a dirt track. I had a lot of trouble with the car. It was old and rusty. I only got six or seven races in because we got rained out a lot.”
Rowe said most of the troubles he had that season were tire issues.
“I learned how to use tubes in the tire because I was blowing out a lot of beads,” Rowe said. “They were pushing toward the inside of the rim, so I blew out a lot of tires that first year. I also learned how to hold a line on the track. I was getting good at it.
“I also learned a lot about four-cylinders. I had never worked on them until I got into racing.”
When year No. 2 arrived, Rowe was still in the same car, but when July rolled around, Rowe said goodbye to that vehicle.
“I ended up wrecking that car pretty good,” he said. “It wasn’t fixable. I ended up hanging around the tracks and drove cars that I was allowed to use. AJ let me drive one of his cars for a couple of races.
“I didn’t miss not having that car. It was a lot of work. I had a lot of problems with that car. The car I have this year is doing a lot better.”
That car came courtesy of Derek Ament.
“I picked up the car from him,” Rowe said. “We had sold stuff together before. It was in good shape. It wasn’t too rusted. It wasn’t too dented up until I got it.”
Some of those dents came in Ashland this season when Rowe rolled his car.
“It wasn’t the first time I had rolled, but it was something different,” Rowe said. “I rolled 360 degrees, and landed on my tires. I bent up the front of the car a little bit.”
A lot of things were running through Rowe’s mind at the time.
“The first thing through my mind was, ‘I’m rolling,’” Rowe said. “Secondly, ‘Am I strapped in?’ The third thing was, ‘Shut the car off,’ so the engine wasn’t running while I was upside down. I did get the car shut off while I was upside down.
“You don’t want to wreck your engine because the oil would be coming off the bottom of the oil pan. You would be running with no oil.”
Even with that mishap, Rowe said he’s having a decent 2019 season.
“I’ve been doing well,” he said. “I’ve had some top 10s, and I’ve been doing well in heat races, thirds and fourths. It’s been a fun season, plus, I’ve been to a few different tracks.”
Rowe has visited Hibbing, Proctor, Superior and Ashland.
With more seat time, the better he is getting at his craft.
“It’s a learning curve,” Rowe said. “I get better in every race. A lot of it depends on track conditions. They differ from week-to-week. A lot of it is mostly cornering and how to use the throttle and brake to your advantage.
“I’m still learning how to do that, but I’ve gotten better this season. I’m better at throttle and brake control. It way more fun being able to run next to some of the other guys, rather than being half a lap down. It’s more fun being next to the rest of the cars.”